Last updated in September 2013
Germany established diplomatic relations with Latvia on 28 August 1991, soon after the country regained its independence on 21 August 1991.
Bilateral relations are close and friendly. Germany has supported Latvia on its way to joining the EU and establishing Euro-Atlantic ties and has helped the country to reform its economy, administration and judiciary.
Latvia’s relations with Germany have taken on a new quality through the country’s accession to the EU and NATO in April and May 2004, respectively. Latvia has also been a member of the Schengen area since 2008.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel paid an official visit to Latvia in September 2010, Federal President Gauck in summer 2013.
In addition, numerous visits by representatives of Germany’s national and regional governments and parliaments help intensify political dialogue between the two countries.
Germany remains one of Latvia’s principal trading partners. In 2012, Germany accounted for 11.67 per cent of Latvia’s total imports, and 7.0 per cent of the country’s total exports went to Germany. Germany is also among the leading direct investors in Latvia. Major investors include E.ON Ruhrgas AG, HVB Bank (now UniCredit), Ergo International AG (Insurances), Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft and Glasseiden Oschatz GmbH.
Some 1,000 companies with German capital interest are active in Latvia, mainly in the metal processing, service and trade sectors. The German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offers German business a direct partner in Riga. The Chamber also conducts regular seminars on various market economy topics.
Bilateral agreements have been concluded on the protection and promotion of investments (April 1993), air, sea and road transport (April 1993) and double taxation (February 1997).
In the past, a number of German-Latvian projects have helped integrate Latvian partners into European consulting networks. Employees’ and employers’ organizations have supported their Latvian partners with advisory services (employers’ association), seminars and further-training measures (trade unions). The most committed partners in Germany include the Diakonisches Werk of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the German Red Cross, the Workers’ Samaritan Federation and the Order of St John.
Cultural relations between Latvia and Germany are very close. For historical reasons, the German language is (still) widely used in the country. There is a lively exchange of cultural workers, scientists, academics, students and pupils between the two countries. Latvian choirs, theatre and dance companies, painters, writers and other cultural workers maintain intensive ties with Germany, as do their German counterparts with Latvia. Riga will be European Capital of Culture 2014.
An important element in the wide-ranging culturalrelations between the two countries are the numerous lively twinning arrangements between German and Latvian towns, municipalities, institutions of higher education and schools as well as other cultural and social institutions.